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Easing My Way…after Sweet Baby J.

April 26th, 2012 by stephanie

As the text and Facebook messages rolled in, I was not only touched, I was blown away by the compassion and concern and the prayers. I found myself responding to their “How are you doing?” inquiries with, “I’m just easing my way into my new normal.” They seemed to understand. And it meant a lot to me that they did.

I mean, after all, to some folks, (I can only imagine) they were probably thinking, “Gosh, it’s just a dog!” But to me, my Judgers, The Judge, Sweet Baby J, had been in my home for a third of my life! I had never been in this current house without him. And I had only slept there two or three nights total without him by my side. Nights when I couldn’t get to the kennel in time after a late flight home.

The days I had with my furry friend meant more than I could ever express in words. I pondered. I would never see his face at the french doors waiting for me again, the curtains swishing back and forth due to the movement of his happy body upon seeing me drive in. I would never hear that sweet bark that announced to the neighborhood, “She’s home!!!!!” Now, when I reach to turn out the light, he is no longer stretched out along the floor by my bed or curled up on his big pillow. When I awake, he’s not there to yawn and greet me (before we both stumbled down the hall and into the kitchen). The hardest part has been not having him by my side during my morning coffee and prayer time. Each morning when I hit that particular line in my prayer book, I’d reach over, grab his tail and pray out loud, “and health, healing and long life to The J.” I guess my prayers were answered…he did after all make it to 13 years and 9 months. Not bad for a 100 pound dog. But never long enough to a pet owner.

In a way, I guess it’s a small connection to what it must have been like for the disciples when Jesus finally left them. Once and for all. It was never how they expected it to end. They were all too young! How could this have happened?! While in shock, they found themselves having to navigate, or better yet, ease their way into their “new normal”. When you’ve been through a tragedy, or experience pain or loss, it just takes some time.

Interestingly, Jesus didn’t give The 12 that much time to make the transition. They were actually up and running pretty fast. We’ll hear more about that in the days ahead. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, just know that I personally am easing my way…after Sweet Baby J.

Get Thee to Galilee.

April 16th, 2012 by stephanie

The words of the angels at the tomb the day Jesus rose from the grave don’t often come to mind. But then again, that’s because they don’t mean much to us. It went like this, “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” (Mark 16:6-7)

Basically, the angel seems to give instructions for the disciples to “go on ahead to Galilee”. But as we saw, eight days later, they were still in Jerusalem. Now, Galilee is about 68 miles north of Jerusalem. And, as they had no cars and were walking, it would take awhile. The average adult walks/travels at about 3 miles per hour. That means, it would take a couple of days to travel there. So, we can assume, if they left the very next day, they would have arrived in Galilee about 11 or 12 days after The Resurrection.

In the 40 days that Jesus did stay (after He arose), we can guess too that He was in Galilee at least 12 days or so afterwards. Why? Because Matt. 28:16-17 tells us that He finally met them there. “Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

Interesting, they see Him alive…but some still doubted.

All that to say, Jesus spent some time with them in Galilee. After all, this was their home turf. The 12 were originally from there. So it was only natural to be back where they started…at least for awhile.

Stay tuned…

8 Days after the Resurrection.

April 13th, 2012 by stephanie

If you are new to this blog, “welcome!” We have been following the last week of Jesus on earth, His death and resurrection, and now, we are revisiting the 40 days he stayed on earth after He rose from the grave. It’s a topic you don’t hear much about these days. But the Scriptures show that Jesus popped in and out of a few places for about a six week period after that miraculous Sunday morning.

He appeared to His disciples in the upper room that same night. And even thought the angels at the tomb had specifically said, “go tell the disciples to go ahead to Galilee, He will meet them there…” 8 days later, we still find the disciples in that same upper room in Jerusalem!

Galilee was about 68 miles north. So, they obviously had feared for their own lives and had hunkered down. Jesus wasn’t too pleased, and once again, popped in on them (eight days later) to address the situation.
Mark 16:14 tells it like this, Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.”

John tells it like this:
John 20:26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

It’s hard for us to imagine that these 12, who were closest to Him for three years, living with him, watching miracle after miracle, still didn’t get it. I guess that just goes to prove how human we all are. Comforting really, that these rabble rousers we consider to be so holy struggled in their spiritual sides just like we do. Jesus knew that, and said something very interesting to Thomas after his “aha” moment, as they say.

John 20: 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

That was a word for us. If those guys had a hard time believing, Jesus knew we would too. And He showed us some major grace in that statement.

Come back later, we’ll look to see where Jesus showed up next.

It Didn’t Stop There…

April 9th, 2012 by stephanie

Many of us were raised thinking that once Jesus rose from the grave, he suddenly drifted up into heaven and was never heard from again. But actually, Scripture tells a different Story.

In the book of Acts, we see that He actually stayed around for 40 more days! It’s, odd, but you don’t hear pastors preach on that much. At least I never remember that part when I was growing up. But when I did some research, I learned Jesus was quite the busy bee. Even on this first day out of the tomb, He made lots of appearances.

If you read the last chapter of each of the four gospels, (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)  you get the full scoop. But let me break some of it down for you. On Sunday, the first day alone:

1. He appears to Mary Magadelene. She is the very first person He appears to.

2. He appears to the women who were coming back to the tomb to properly finish preparing the body. They had not been able to complete the task due to Sabbath sunset setting in on Friday evening.

3. He appears to the two men walking on the road to Emmaus.

4. He then appears to the disciples in the upper room.

At some point, it mentions that He even slipped in a private appearance to Peter. Of all people that needed it, I can assure you, at that point, Peter, after denying Him three times, surely did.

Thot for today: If you had 40 days left on this earth. Who would you spend time with?

Just my thoughts,



Easter Sunday!

April 8th, 2012 by stephanie

He is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed.

Such is the call and response that is very familiar to those in the church world. One person will say, “He is Risen,” to which the other will reply, “He is Risen Indeed.” Many of you will enjoy this exchange today in celebration of what happened over 2,000 years ago.
And it went a bit like this…
Matt. 28:1-9
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.

And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.

The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.

“He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.

“Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.

Then Jesus *said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

He is Risen-indeed.

Happy Easter, my friend.

Holy Week: Stone Cold Saturday.

April 7th, 2012 by stephanie

The Tomb. That’s where Christ was on this day. And it was deathly silent.

Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. So no work would be done on this day. It was a sacred time set apart for contemplation and complete rest for God’s chosen people. That is why there was such a  rush to have Jesus prepared for burial and placed into the tomb by sunset Friday night (when the Sabbath officially would begin).

Luke 23:54-56 It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes. And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment.

Meanwhile, back at the the roman palace, the Jewish leaders, who should have been resting and worshiping at home, were anything but quiet…

Matt. 27:62-66 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

They knew Jesus had powers. They were terrified He would rise. How interesting that they thought a stone could keep Him, the Creator of the Universe, in a grave.

Not a sound was heard from the tomb. But Sunday was coming…


Holy Week: Good Friday?

April 6th, 2012 by stephanie

If you have seen the amazing movie by Mel Gibson The Passion of the Christ, you know that calling the day Jesus was crucified “good” seems a bit strange. But the fact is, if you know the story, it does have a happy ending. Because this day is so dark and sad, I started a new tradition a few years ago.
My first plan of action for today will be to head out, with my sweet dog The Judge, to Panera Bread. There I will purchase some Hot Cross Buns. (They only have them through Easter Sunday.)
Sure, I make it sound like Good Friday is all about the food, but you and I both know the cross on those holiday buns is simply to remind us of what happened on this day more than 2,000 years ago.

Basically, in the middle of the night, (Thursday night) Roman soldiers captured Jesus. They arrested him then drug him to an illegal trial that the Jewish leadership set up in the wee hours of the morning. After that, He was brutally beaten. Passed between Herod and Pilate, he was finally handed over for a terrible torture – crucifixion. Where he was hung between two thieves.
Jesus was put on the cross close to 9:00 am in the morning and hung there most of the day. At noon, the sky grew dark, and there was an earthquake. Close to 3:00 pm, He gave up His spirit and died. One of my favorite parts, that you don’t hear much about, is that graves opened when that happened and the bodies of the saints came out and visited loved ones. If you don’t believe me check this out.
Matt. 27:52-53 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
It was a very full and powerful day.

I know we are all busy, but when you have a second, read the story. Matthew chapter 27 today.

In Remembrance of Him.

Verses for Today:
Matt 27:1-61
Mark 15:1-47
Luke 22: 66- 23:55

Holy Week: Maundy Thursday & Passover

April 5th, 2012 by stephanie

It’s an odd title isn’t it? Looks like someone is trying to say Monday/Thursday. But believe it or not, there really is something called Maundy Thursday and people used to go to religious services on this day. Many still do.

Most people don’t realize that the Last Supper (yes, the famous one that comes to mind) was actually a Passover Seder that Jesus celebrated with His disciples. Remember: they were Jewish. Raised Jewish. And this was Passover week for them. (Lk. 22:1 and Exodus 12.). The Seder dinner would land on Thursday night. They were not going to miss this special holiday feast with their Master. Jesus even mentioned it while predicting his crucifixion. 
Matt. 26:2 You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.

If you didn’t notice before, there is even a passage in Scripture that shows Jesus preparing for the meal:
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?’ And He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘”The Teacher says, My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples'”. The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. Matt. 26:16-19

Most of you know the story from there. The breaking of the bread. The taking of the cup. Washing the disciples feet. And then, the planned betrayal by one of his own: Judas. Basically: on this day Jesus had his last supper, his last Passover celebration, with his disciples and He was trying to show them it was all about Him. They didn’t get it.

The book of Matthew states:
“…Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying,” Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

After dinner, they headed off to the Mt. of Olives…where He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Matt. 26:30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

May you go through this day In Remembrance of Him.

Mark 14:12-72
Luke 22:7-65
John 13:1-30

Holy Week: Dark Wednesday

April 4th, 2012 by stephanie

Some say it was Tuesday, others say Wednesday. Others call it Dark Wednesday, or Spy Wednesday. Whatever you want to call it, scholars argue that this was the day Judas Iscariot, (the disciple who betrayed Jesus) agreed to show the chief priests where they could easily capture Christ. No one is really sure. One thing we do know, Wednesday is a bit of a mystery.

We do know from Scriptures that the Jewish leaders were pretty upset with Jesus and were busy plotting His death. Here’s a bit of how that looked:
Matthew 26:3-5 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him.

So where was Jesus when all of this was taking place? Well, He was heading back towards Bethany each evening. And at the home of Simon the Leper during dinner on this night, His feet were anointed with an expensive ointment by a woman.

But during the day, we find this was his schedule:Luke 21:37-38 Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.

Tomorrow, we look at what they call Maundy Thursday in Holy Week. Watch those church signs as you travel around town this week. You’ll see services are being held tomorrow at some of the more formal, or what we call “high” churches. Maybe you can catch one! If so, let me know what you think about it.

Thot for today: When you know someone is plotting or planning your demise, who do you turn to? If you find yourself in this situation, turn it over to Jesus…He knows exactly how you feel.


Verses for Today:
Mark 14:1-10

Holy Week: Torrid Tuesday

April 3rd, 2012 by stephanie

The Tuesday before Christ was crucified was a rather full day for Jesus. Knowing it is His final week on this earth as a human, it seems we watch as He works to get in every little last bit of business that He can before His departure.

Holy Week Tuesday is the day when the famous incident between Jesus and the Pharisees is thought to have taken place. This is where they really tried to trap Jesus into making a blasphemous, or rather, anti-god remark. (Mark 11:27-33). Also, on this day Jesus taught some amazing parables. (Matthew 21:28-23:36).

Another thing that is interesting, though Jesus was taking on the Jewish leaders, some Greeks (the intellectual/philosophical types) who were intrigued came and asked to see Jesus and speak with Him as well. (John 12:20-26). If that wasn’t enough for one day, He then delivered what is known as the famous Olivet Discourse. Sound familiar? This was simply the message that he gave on the Mount of Olives where he talked about the coming destruction of Jerusalem along with signs of the last days. (Matt 24)

Lots of ancient prophecy was fulfilled on this day too. One of the prophecies said that Jesus would be rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53:1,3.

In my opinion, that’s what made Tuesday really lousy. Supposedly on this day Judas, one of the 12 Disciples, agreed to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16). Someone from His own personal, inner circle. What time of day, we’re not sure, but most agree, it was on Tuesday. So very heartbreaking, and sad.

Thot for today: Have you ever been, or felt betrayed by someone who is “closest” to you? It’s a very painful experience. Jesus understands. It happened to Him too.

Verses for Today:
Matt. 22:15-46
Mark 11:20-33
Luke 21:1-38

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